Anyone who started a business from the ground up will tell you one thing: running a business requires a substantial commitment of time, patience, and energy. And as your business keeps growing, so does your list of to-dos.
You’ll try to prioritize tasks but might run into a common pitfall — giving more importance to complex and urgent tasks over mundane ones. This sounds like an excellent solution, but it can hurt your business in many ways. Forgetting to reply to emails, make quarterly tax payments, and follow up with suppliers can prevent your business from staying afloat.
Running a business becomes easier when you have a virtual assistant. The right virtual assistant can be an asset, helping your business succeed long-term.
Solopreneur vs. Entrepreneur
The most significant difference between a solopreneur and an entrepreneur is a team. Solopreneurs handle their businesses alone, while entrepreneurs understand that they don’t have to do everything themselves. Instead, entrepreneurs build systems and hire the right people to do things for them.
Creating and working with a team is essential to building a scalable business that continues to grow without requiring the owner to get their hands dirty all the time. This also guarantees sustainability, as working alone is stressful and increases the risk of entrepreneurial burnout.
How to Hire The Right Assistant
Your virtual assistant can either make your life easier or be the source of many (and expensive) headaches down the road. According to Business News Daily, a bad hire can cost businesses anywhere from $17,000 to $240,000. The repercussions of selecting the wrong virtual assistant can be devastating, so it’s crucial to do your due diligence when hiring.
Ultimately, it all boils down to finding a virtual assistant that’s hardworking, dependable, responsible, and experienced.
Set the Qualifications and Salary Before Posting the Position
Come up with a list of tasks you’ll give to your virtual assistant before posting any job hiring, never after. If you do it after, problems can snowball, and you’ll spend more resources.
Say you posted a job ad online when you realized you needed a virtual assistant. You received thousands of applications and were able to choose one after asking several interview questions. You wanted your virtual assistant to manage your social media on Day 1, but they immediately informed you they had no experience with that task.
Now, you must decide: are you willing to spend time and effort teaching your virtual assistant the ins and outs of social media management? Or will you return to the drawing board and hire again, but this time with a more transparent job description?
It’s always best to decide the tasks you’ll offload to your virtual assistant before announcing that you need one. This helps your virtual assistant adjust quickly to the workload and prevents you from going around in circles.
Exhaust All Possible Channels for Finding Candidates
Besides using online platforms, such as OnlineJobs.ph, Fiverr, and Upwork, consider other channels for finding a virtual assistant. For example, you can post a job ad on your business’s social media profiles or website. Or, if you already have an existing team working for you, ask them for referrals.
Try to cast as large of a net as possible. You’ll never know when, where, and how you’ll encounter your first virtual assistant.
Invest Time to Choose a Great Candidate
After following the first two tips, you’ll likely receive many applications for your virtual assistant position. While some of them are experts in the industry, others are new but possess certain skills critical for your business. This is why taking as much time as you need to choose a great candidate is crucial.
Never get desperate trying to fill the position by rushing the process. You’ll pay for it later by having to start the hiring process all over again. Besides, you’ve made it this far without a virtual assistant, and it’s always worth waiting a little longer to find the perfect candidate.
Although virtual assistants work remotely, this doesn’t mean you should spend less time interviewing them. Remember, they’ll have access to your business’s most sensitive files and will be responsible for some of its most critical functions.
Screen for Candidates With Your Company Culture in Mind
There are plenty of virtual assistants out there, but they’ll likely struggle to succeed if they don’t fit your company culture. According to research, employees who fit well with their organization enjoy greater job satisfaction, display exceptional performance, and are more committed.
Sure, you can train your virtual assistant to use the tools you want, but you can never teach them to have the personality necessary to fit with the rest of your team.
Think culture first as a virtual assistant who is “culturally fit” with your organization is easy to train. But the wrong culture fit with the right skills will make it hard to succeed.
Assess their Ability to Take Initiative and Think Under Pressure
Many virtual assistants believe they have what it takes to thrive in your business. Their interview might be impressive, but that doesn’t mean they can handle real-world problems once they work with you. This is especially true for virtual assistants who worked for another industry or had different responsibilities in the past.
What they experienced with their previous clients might not happen when they work for your business. With this in mind, assess whether the candidates can take charge in situations that are more common in your niche. One of the best ways to gauge their abilities is to ask about hypothetical real-world situations.
For example, ask the candidates how they would respond if one of your top clients called for an urgent concern, but you’re already in the middle of a meeting with another stakeholder.
Don’t only listen to their answers — pay attention to how they arrived at them. The correctness and promptness of each candidate’s response will give you an idea of how they’ll perform under pressure.
Ask About Their Biggest Accomplishment
Many entrepreneurs ask potential hires what their biggest accomplishment is to date. You can do the same to help weed out exceptional candidates from ordinary ones.
Additionally, this question will shed some light on other things that can impact your hiring decision, namely:
- How detail-oriented they are
- The skillsets candidates consider most important in the position they’re applying
- Their confidence in their abilities
Ask follow-up questions to better understand the candidates’ state of mind and the reason for their answers. For instance, ask why they think their accomplishment is impressive.
Generally, the most genuine candidates will provide you with a detailed and thoughtful account of their past performance and how this positively impacted their previous clients.
Use Leading Questions to Expose Any Flaws
Virtual assistants will put their best foot forward when applying and either downplay or ignore their negatives. When hiring a virtual assistant for the first time, it’s crucial to know what these downsides are — and thankfully, you can do that by asking leading questions.
Start by asking candidates what their previous clients will say about them if you ask for a reference. Highly skilled candidates will realize that negative issues will come to light anyways, so they’ll opt to share any work-related problems they’ve had previously.
If a candidate doesn’t reveal any issues during the interview and their previous clients eventually bring them to light, consider that a major red flag.
Conduct a Sample Project
Many virtual assistants have been in the industry for years and have already mastered how to ace interviews. But just because they did well during the interview doesn’t always mean they’re the right person for the job.
Conduct a sample project during the interview by asking questions close to the job description. For example, if you’re hiring a virtual assistant specifically to take over your business’s WordPress needs, ask how they would solve issues common in the platform. Ask what their solutions are when they encounter a parse or syntax error, the white screen of death or WSoD, an internal server error, or a 404 error in WordPress.
If you hire a virtual assistant for research, ask candidates to describe the process they’d go through to research and the tools they use in every step. Give them all the time they’ll need to explain their process to you.
Conducting a sample project is beneficial as the candidates get better insights into your business requirements. Plus, you can easily determine which candidate fits your business’s needs.
Listen Carefully to References
Never overlook checking references when hiring a virtual assistant. The experience of the candidate’s prior clients can help you make a better hiring decision.
Clients satisfied with the services rendered by the virtual assistant will not sabotage the future job prospects of their previous employees, while others might be limited in what they can say due to legal reasons.
Whatever the case, pay attention to the tone of the client’s voice and ask leading questions to see if they’re trying to hide anything negative.
Hiring The Right Virtual Assistant Today
As you can see, hiring your first virtual assistant doesn’t have to be a struggle. Simply follow all the tips presented here, and you’re on your way to finding the perfect virtual assistant for your business!
To learn more about effectively hiring a virtual assistant, sign up for One VA Away, a recruiting training designed to help business owners and entrepreneurs find the right VA fast.